Did you know that in the old American Football League the Kansas City Chiefs franchise got their start as the Dallas Texans? After winning the 1962 AFL Championship over the Houston Oilers they left Dallas to the Cowboys and relocated to Kansas City.
In 2021, these two teams are no in the thick of the playoff chase in their conferences and both need a victory to strengthen their postseason position.
Nostrathomas also needs some victories to strengthen his position as a football prognosticator. After the chaos of Week 10 I am now 92-57-1 straight up, 68-74-2 against the spread.
Enough about the past. Time to dig into Week 11 of the NFL season.
Game of the Week
Dallas Cowboys vs Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 (4:25PM ET; GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)
Last week, we finally got a look at the Super Bowl caliber Chiefs in their 41-14 victory over Las Vegas. What we’ve gotten all week because of that win is that Kansas City is back to form and ready to rampage their way back to a number one seed with another Super Bowl on the horizon.
Of course, there is another way to look at the Chiefs win last week. It is possible that Kansas City beat a Raiders team that is on a downslide and no better than the Eagles or Giants that the Chiefs beat earlier in the season.
I have no doubt that the Chiefs offense has recovered some of the magic that made them a Super Bowl team the last two seasons. The problem for Kansas City is that the Cowboys have gone toe-to-toe with some tough teams this season.
Another advantage for Dallas in this game is that left tackle Tyron Smith is expected to be back in the starting lineup for this game. That gives the Cowboys a decided edge against Kansas City’s defense.
That’s why I’m taking the Dallas Cowboys to win and cover in what promises to be a high-scoring game.
Dallas Cowboys 35 Kansas City Chiefs 31
Detroit Lions vs Cleveland Browns -12 (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
The Detroit Lions came close to knocking off the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field last week. They didn’t get the win but they made sure they wouldn’t be the first 0-17 team in NFL history.
Detroit heads into this week without starting quarterback Jared Goff (oblique). Backup Tim Boyle will make his first career start at quarterback with Dan Campbell calling the plays in place of offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
For the Cleveland Browns, Nick Chubb will be back and ready to face a defense that he should be able to tear through for big yards.
Cleveland is going to be looking to wash the taste of their embarrassing Week 10 loss to the Patriots out of their mouths. Detroit gets to play the role of palette cleanser.
Cleveland Browns 24 Detroit Lions 6
San Francisco 49ers -6.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1PM ET; TIAA Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)
The San Francisco 49ers may not be able to win at home but they play an entirely different quality of game on the road.
Jacksonville was fortunate that the Colts took their foot off the gas after jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.
San Francisco has won eight of their last nine games played on the East Coast. They have the short game and the power to dominate the Jaguars like Indianapolis did last week. Take them to win and cover.
San Francisco 49ers 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
New Orleans Saints vs Philadelphia Eagles -3 (1PM ET; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)
The Philadelphia Eagles have put together a strong, run-first offense that is finally giving them an identity with Jalen Hurts at quarterback.
The Saints are on a two-game losing streak and have a couple of problems heading into this game in Philadelphia. First, Alvin Kamara (knee) will be out for the second straight week. Second, both of their starting tackles, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk have been ruled out for this game.
Trevor Siemian has enough trouble trying to keep the Saints offense moving with a less than stellar wide receiver group. Doing it without two starting tackles is too much to ask.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 New Orleans Saints 20
Best of the Rest
Baltimore Ravens vs Chicago Bears +5.5 (1PM ET; Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off an embarrassing Week 10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore’s offense was shut down so completely that they went without a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter when Lamar Jackson connected wi th tight end Mark Andrews for a five-yard touchdown pass.
As for the Chicago Bears, they’re coming off their bye week after a Week 9 fight to the wire against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 29-27 loss. The Bears running attack has been strong all season behind David Montgomery and Khalil Bell.
Also, quarterback Justin Fields has been improving by the week. Against Pittsburgh, Fields put together the best passing game of his rookie season. He threw 29 times, completing 17 for 291 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Achilles heel for Chicago on offense has been their line. Fields leads NFL quarterbacks in intended air yards per attempt. He also leads in completed air yards per attempt. Give Fields time and he won’t just give the Bears completions, he’ll complete passes that stretch the field.
The Bears are going to score on offense. The issue for the team is whether their defense can hold down Baltimore’s attack led by Lamar Jackson.
Khalil Mack will be undergoing foot surgery and will be out for the remainder of the 2021 season. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will also be out, weakening Chicago’s pass rush. Also, the Bears secondary has too many holes to keep Baltimore in check all game.
The Ravens win this game but fail to cover the 5.5.
(Update: Lamar Jackson has been declared out for this game. Because of that, I’m changing my prediction to the Bears winning and covering)
Chicago Bears 27 Baltimore Ravens 20
Miami Dolphins -3 vs New York Jets (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has decided to start 36-year-old Joe Flacco at quarterback in this game. Flacco is not the future of the Jets, neither is he the present day for the Jets. He’s just the quarterback that Saleh is turning to in desperation to win a game before the home crowd.
Desperation is not a good look for a coach. Don’t think that the players don’t understand that too.
Brian Flores is 4-0 against the spread when facing the Jets. He moves to 5-0 after this game.
Miami Dolphins 20 New York Jets 7
Houston Texans +10 vs Tennessee Titans (1PM ET; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)
In his first game back from injury last week, Texans quarterback Tyron Taylor was terrible. He threw three interceptions, was sacked five times and finished with a 42.8 passer rating. That could have been Taylor trying to shake off the accumulated rust from being out for six weeks.
The Texans are not going to beat Tennessee in this game but if Taylor plays up to his talents, they’re not going to lose by more than the 10-point spread.
Take the Titans to win and Houston to cover.
Tennessee Titans 27 Houston Texans 20
Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills -7 (1PM ET; Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY)
The Buffalo Bills currently hold down the top spot in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings. This week, they face a Colts team that has fought it’s way out of oblivion to being a contender in the AFC playoff race.
Indianapolis is running strong behind a finally healthy offensive line. Jonathan Taylor has rushed for 937 yards and nine touchdowns heading into Week 11. Unfortunately for the Colts, Buffalo’s defense has held opponents to a 3.8 yards per carry average, third best in the league.
The Bills are first in the league on defense in points allowed and fourth on offense in points scored. If they jump out to a lead against Indianapolis, they’re going to be tough to catch.
Take Buffalo to win and cover the touchdown spread.
Buffalo Bills 33 Indianapolis Colts 24
Washington Football Team vs Carolina Panthers -3.5 (1PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
The Carolina Panthers will be starting Cam Newton at quarterback for the first time since the 2019 season. He has already upped the excitement meter for Panthers fans after scoring two touchdowns in two plays last week against Arizona.
For Newton’s homecoming, he gets to host his former head coach, Ron Rivera, and the rest of the Football Team from Washington.
The main difference between these teams is that Washington is playing without Chase Young and Montez Sweat while the Panthers are playing some of the best defense in the NFL. Carolina just hasn’t had the offense to complement that defense after Sam Darnold flamed out.
Carolina fans are excited about Newton being back as the team’s starting quarterback because of his two touchdown plays last week but the bulk of Newton’s work over the past three seasons hasn’t been up to “Superman” standards.
Fortunately for the Panthers, all-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey is healthy again and should be able to keep Newton from needing, or trying, to do too much in his return home. McCaffrey and Carolina’s defense should be enough for the Panthers to win and cover.
Carolina Panthers 23 Washington Football Team 17
Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings +1 (1PM ET; U.S Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
This is a tough game to pick with both teams running fairly even statistically heading into this week. The Vikings may only be 4-5 this season but they’ve played a schedule that is heavy with teams in playoff contention.
Aaron Rodgers has been on fire again this season but Kirk Cousins leads him in completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, net passing yards per attempt and passer rating. Don’t underestimate what Minnesota’s offense can do in the air with receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and on the ground with Dalvin Cook.
Sports books in Las Vegas have been taking heavy action from the sharps laying money on the Vikings. When in doubt, follow the guys who do this for a living.
Minnesota Vikings 27 Green Bay Packers 26
Cincinnati Bengals -1 vs Las Vegas Raiders (4:05PM ET; Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV)
The Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders were both holding down playoff spots in the AFC as little as one month ago. Now, both are on the outside looking in. The winner of this game will put themselves back into playoff contention while the loser may be facing a deficit that would be near impossible to make up.
While the Bengals hit a bump in the road in their two losses before their bye but they’re still a quality team on offense with running back Joe Mixon and the corps of receivers Joe Burrow has available.
It appears that the Raiders are slowly coming apart as the season goes on. I’m taking the Bengals to get their season back on track in Las Vegas.
Cincinnati Bengals 26 Las Vegas Raiders 21
Arizona Cardinals -1.5 vs Seattle Seahawks (4:25PM ET; Lumen Field, Seattle, WA)
This is a tough game to pick considering all the injuries that both teams are dealing with.
The Cardinals may be getting quarterback Kyler Murray back but he is a game time decision. One thing that is sure, Arizona will not have leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins available.
As for the Seattle Seahawks, running back Chris Carson is out for the season while backup back Alex Collins has been limited in practice all week.
Seattle is 1-3 at home this season while the Cardinals are 5-0 both straight-up and against the spread on the road. Arizona’s offense is built for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals need a victory to stay in contention with the Green Bay Packers for the top seed in the NFC.
I expect Murray to play and Arizona to win and cover.
Arizona Cardinals 30 Seattle Seahawks 20
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Los Angeles Chargers -5.5 (Sunday Night Football; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)
This is a tough game to pick. Pittsburgh is coming off a tie at home against the Detroit Lions in an overtime that was more comical than competitive. The Los Angeles Chargers have struggled since their hot start, even though they’ve been within one score in all but one of their losses.
The advantage for Pittsburgh is that Ben Roethlisberger will be back at quarterback. The problem for the Steelers is that linebacker T.J. Watt (hip, knee), guard Kevin Dotson (ankle), cornerback Joe Haden (foot) and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (groin) and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (Covid) will all be out.
Even with the problems that the Chargers have had at home this season, quarterback Justin Herbert should have plenty of opportunities to make plays considering the firepower that will be out of the lineup for the Steelers.
I’m taking the Los Angeles Chargers to win and cover against a depleted Steelers squad.
Los Angeles Chargers 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 20
New York Giants +11 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night Football; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a tumble in the NFC playoff race last week with an embarrassing loss to Washington after their Week 9 bye. That was the second consecutive loss for Tampa Bay. In Week 8 they dropped a game against a Trevor Siemian led Saints squad.
The problem for the Buccaneers over their last two games is an inability to take care of the football. Tampa Bay has five turnovers in their last two games, four of those interceptions by Tom Brady.
Brady may not run into those same problems this week against New York’s defense. Where the Buccaneers may have trouble is if New York gets Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay back on offense. Quarterback Daniel Jones has played well this season but hasn’t had his complete offense available to him for most of the season.
The Giants are 9-2 as road dogs against the spread under head coach Joe Judge and are 12-2 in their last 14.
I’m taking the Buccaneers to win but New York is very capable of keeping this contest close.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 New York Giants 20
Point spreads are from VegasInsider.com and are accurate as of this writing.